MY MUSE BOX - Joan's On Third

The best lemon bars!!!


Who’s on first? Haven’t a clue – don’t really care… but Joan’s on Third and I do care about that. Why? Because “Joan’s On Third” is one of my favorite sandwich shops/cheese stores/‘bistros’ in Los Angeles. 

My husband and I first met Joan McNamara when he produced a piece about her mac & cheese for the Food Network. I was in the process of designing a minor remodel of our kitchen taking it from a 50’s formica past to a modern-day New England farmhouse future, and was debating the use of marble for the counter-tops. I wanted marble, but friends and fellow designers were nixing the idea – it ‘stains.’ But I couldn’t get my great aunt’s farm and her kitchen out of my mind. Connecticut white/gray marble, wide-plank wood floors, white enamel sinks and wonderful country-kitchen faucets.

To help with the final decision, my husband took me to Joan’s On Third designed almost exactly the way I was envisioning our kitchen… all her tables and counters were honed Carerra marble (translation: the glitzy shiny surface was taken off) which is quite similar to the marble from Connecticut quarries. They looked gorgeous!! Just what I wanted. So we sat down with Joan and “talked” marble while we ate her fab mac & cheese. I explained all the stain warnings I had been receiving and she just smiled and said, “Patina.” When I realized she wasn’t sending me to a Joachim Splichal restaurant, I looked more closely at her counter tops and I saw exactly what she meant. There were tons of stains and spots and they all just blended into the stone. Patina!

OK, my mind made up – no granite for me (hey, I’m just not a granite girl) – I was going to fulfill my country-kitchen vision. To celebrate, Joan brought out her lemon bars. Full disclosure… I don’t like a lot of sweets, so my first bite was with much trepidation.  What if I didn’t like them? Joan was still sitting with us and I knew I’d have to at least eat half. Well, nooooooooo problem. They are just plain amazingly delicious.

Here’s how to make them:


Joan’s on Third’s Lemon Bars


Total time:  45 minutes, plus

Cooling time for the crust

Servings:  makes 9 bars



½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, divided

½ cup powdered sugar, plus more

    for dusting the bars

1 cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 eggs, slightly beaten



Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter w/ 1 cup flour and the powdered sugar, stirring just until the dough comes together.  Pat the dough into an 8-inch square pan and bake just until lightly golden, about 16 -18 minutes.  Remove and cool the pan on a wire rack to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, baking powder and remaining 2 tablespoons flour.  Whisk in the lemon juice and eggs until thoroughly combined.  Pour the custard into the pan over the baked crust and bake again until it’s set, 20-25 minutes.  Remove and cool the tart on a wire rack.

When cooled, dust lightly w/ additional powdered sugar and cut into bars.  The lemon bars will keep for 1 week, refrigerated.

Each serving:  277 calories; 3 grams protein’ 42 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber, 11grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 74 mg. cholesterol; 44 mg. sodium


Joan’s On Third

8350 West Third Street

Los Angeles, Calif.  90048




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